COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PSA (last updated 2020)
Is the PSA public?
When filing the PSA with 5 or less children, your PSA goes into a database that is only searchable by going to the Board of Education’s physical office. If you have 6 or more children in your private school, your info is published and searchable online along with all other larger private schools.
What if we decide to homeschool midyear after trying distance learning?
You will unenroll and establish your private school at that time, following all of the same requirements as someone who knew they were going to do so at the beginning of the year, and file your PSA then, even if it’s past the October 1-15th filing period. UPDATE: The CDE is making the form available early, on August 1 each year beginning in fall of 2023. The deadline is still October 15, but the form can now be filed early.
What if my child turns 6 on September 3rd or midyear, do I need to file then?
No, because your child was 5 as of September 1st, the law does not apply to them for that entire school year, even though they turned 6 midyear. Kindergarten is not compulsory education and you can unenroll your kindergartener at any time, for any reason, and not have to enroll anywhere else.
Do I file the PSA for Kindergarten?
No, do not file UNLESS YOUR CHILD is 6 as of Sept. 1st. If they are 5, DO NOT FILE, it is unnecessary. They are not required to have legal structure under the compulsory education law. So, even if they turn 6 on Sept. 2, or later in the year, DO NOT FILE until the next year. We don’t want the government deciding that everyone does it anyway, so let’s make it mandatory! We want parents to retain the choice for Kindergarten whether to send their kids to school or not.
If I homeschool for Kindergarten, does that count? (Enroll straight into 1st if we return to public)
Yes! It counts! Your child will enroll into 1st grade next year if you choose to go back to public school. Kindergarten is not compulsory education and 6 year olds are enrolled into 1st grade automatically according to their age.
Should I file the PSA right now, just to be “safe”?
No. If you do so, you are filing it for last school year, when your child was enrolled elsewhere. If you filed it already, no harm, no foul, but you still need to file it again this October between the 1st and 15th for the coming school year. Simply unenrolling from your prior school (a quick email with acknowledgement suffices) and deciding to BE a small private school, and keeping a few things on file (see this guide: https://www.hsc.org/quickguide), is what creates your school. The PSA is notification to the state that you exist. It is not an approval, it’s a form for your records that goes into a database with 20k others, and you do not need it to start your small private school. You are already legal and in existence prior to filing! Also, if your child will be 6 as of September 1 as of this year, you will file for the first time this year. If you come to homeschooling after October, file it when you do!
How do I unenroll from my old school?
A quick email from you as the parent or from you as the administrator of your school will suffice. Here are some sample letters you may use.
What if the school says I can’t unenroll or that homeschooling is not legal?
Here are two letters on the legality of homeschooling written by the HSC legal team that you can use to educate them:
You can also speak to one of our volunteers on the toll-free phone line (1-800-HSC-4440) or contact HSC at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
Do I need my child’s records/transcripts? (Parent vs School request)
If your kids are in grade school, not necessarily. Unless you have an IEP, or just want the records for personal reasons, you don’t necessarily need them; however, the school is required to give you a copy if you request it. Your new school can request them, or you can as the parent (FERPA).
What if I only homeschool for one year? (Grade School vs High School considerations)
Grade school students will simply pop back into their age related grade if you go back to public school after homeschooling. It’s possible they may do testing for placement in reading or math groups, for instance. But, if your child is in high school, the public school does not, by law, have to accept your private school credits. They will have certain requirements for graduation and could require your student to repeat work unnecessarily if they deem it insufficient. Therefore, this should be considered prior to deciding to file the PSA for a high school student if you aren’t planning to homeschool throughout the entire four years.
What about testing?
Filing the PSA means you are a private school, and as such, the government does not interfere or have any requirements of you other than the filing and record keeping mentioned. You will decide if your child requires testing and it will be up to you to procure it.
Does the state or school district supervise the private school?
No. The private school affidavit is a simple form that notifies the state of the existence of a private school. It is not a license given by the state: The state does not approve, evaluate, recognize, endorse, or supervise your private school in any way. The affidavit is merely a device by which the Department of Education’s Demographics Unit keeps track of the number of school children in California. The affidavit form itself is a public document available from the California Department of Education. It is completed and submitted online by most schools, but can also be submitted in paper form, either using the Department's form or a "statement in lieu" that contains all of the information required by law. Because the Department's form is a public document, the state cannot refuse to give families the form or refuse to accept their completed form.
Private schools must offer instruction "in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools" (see Ed Code sections 51210 and 51220), but how those subjects are taught is determined by the private school. There is no provision in the law that authorizes or requires that local school districts or any other state agency supervise or approve of the instruction given in private schools.
Do I need proof of teaching/learning?
You are not required to keep records of what was learned or what you accomplished, however, we recommend you keep some sort of record so that you can see just how much you and your child have done and learned over the course of a week or month. Also, should you need to create a transcript in the future; this will provide you with the records to do so. A simple notebook or calendar will do, as will pictures of your child throughout the week. If you have a high school student, keep track of books read, and any syllabus or class descriptions, etc. for easily creating a transcript later if needed.
How do IEP’s work with a PSA?
IEP’s are a public school program. When you have a private school, there is no IEP. If you rely on an IEP for significant services, you will want to consider this before leaving the public school system unless you can continue to provide those services to your child out of your own pocket. Sometimes, if the IEP accommodations are minor, they can often be mitigated or lessened significantly by the homeschooling environment. If you return to the public school later, your IEP can be reinstated if needed. There is also a program called ISP (Individual Service Plan) that schools sometimes offer in place of the IEP for private school students in their district. The public school will perform triennials, but generally, no services are provided. It is up to the private school (you, in this instance) to implement any plan. This is an option for continuity if desired, but you may decline it if you like.
What about a diploma?
As the administrator of your private school, you will issue a diploma for your student when they graduate (when you determine they have met the requirements for graduation). The requirements may be different for different families and even different children depending on their educational and life goals.